Shopping with your family and friends during this busy holiday season can be a very enjoyable experience if it is done wisely. Being budget wise as well as being aware of your surroundings can make a difference in returning as a happy, well rounded shopper or having your world turned upside down and made miserable.
Before you start your holiday shopping always be sure that your budget can support your shopping. In other words know how you intend to spend your money so as not to over stress your budget and make the remainder of the next year stressful by not being able to meet your normal financial obligations.
Using the internet to shop is okay if you don’t mind not having a hands-on look at what you are about to buy. However if you visit numerous websites which have not been recognized as trusted sites and do not have sufficient firewall protection as well as virus protection which also includes spyware and pop up protection, you should not do frequent shopping on the internet. Unless you know all you need to know about internet security you should simply avoid shopping on the internet. Using the phone to order is more preferable.
Avoid using hard cash whenever possible. While some mall stores will not allow you to write checks, most department stores will. Although it my take a little more time to write a check it is better. Just have your checkbook available where you can reach it and also have a pin convenient as well as your identification card. Also be sure you have the amount of money covered so you avoid overdrafts. I would not recommend using a debit card because if it is stolen or lost you may not be covered and may lose all of your money. Someone could also see you enter your PIN (personal identification number) and steal your card later. If you are only using a small amout of cash to shop with and you get it from an ATM, do it inside the store as most big department stores have them as well as malls. avoid being in an isolated place when getting money from an ATM. If using a credit card, limit the amount of credit used to the amout you can pay back over the shortest period of time.
When entering the mall, shopping center, or department store, do not allow others attempting to sell things to you or who ask for directions to distract you. It may be an attempt to divert your attention and rob you in one form or another. While some people may be honest in approaching you, you should not take any chances unless someone else is with you who can act as a conscientious observer. Once you have given them the information they ask for don’t allow them to steer you into any other conversation. Get on with what you intend to do. You must keep in mind that during this time of year criminals are out in full force and will take advantage of any situation where they detect vulnerability.
Do not wonder around talking constantly on your cell phone or constantly going through your purse or billfold, or counting your money or receipts. Have a place where you will keep all reciepts and cash as well as cards and be readily able to get to them when you need to. Be sure to ask about the return policy before purchasing your gifts.
Always see that small children are accompanied and well supervised whether shopping or playing games. Never allow a small child to go to the restroom without the company of an adult or older child who has a cell phone or walkie talkie. Check with them periodically or in some cases you can wait outside the restroom depending on the location and if your child’s gender is different from yours. This will let anyone in the area know that someone is monitoring them. Even as an adult you need to be aware of what is going on when you enter a public restroom. Let someone know or appear to let someone know that you are in the restroom and to contact you periodically or to check on you if you appear to be overdue.
Never overload your shopping cart and never attempt to carry a lot of packages in your hands alone.
Put your packages in your trunk and lock it. Never leave anything on your carseat or floor. Avoid walking outside stores in a busy shopping center with a lot of bags or packages. If you don’t have a car use the tram services if provided. If not, get a friend to drive you around if the stores are not in close walking distances. When approaching your car if things look suspecious get someone or a security guard to help you look around outside and inside of your car. Also remember never leave your child in your car not even for a short time. If you must be out of your vehicle, have an adult to stay with your child and have them to lock the door. Have a cell phone so you can call them and they can call you if need be. If you see you are going to be longer then you plan, have them to come inside and wait for you.
Remember you can make a difference when you observe, work together, and plan your shopping outing.